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Winners Announced for DPAC's Triangle Rising Stars Awards

Symoné Spencer and Joshua Thompson have won scholarships and will head to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Winners Announced for DPAC's Triangle Rising Stars Awards

DPAC hosted Triangle Rising Stars, central North Carolina's High School Musical Theatre Awards on Wednesday evening, May 11th, 2022 with special guest host, Clay Aiken.

DPAC's Triangle Rising Stars (TRS) celebrates outstanding achievement in high school musical theatre, by focusing attention on the meaningful work being done both on and off stage by dedicated teachers and students.

TRS also serves as the regional competition as part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (NHSMTA). This regional competition is open to high school musical theatre productions and musical theatre students in Central North Carolina.

Last year's winners, Elena Holder and Joshua Messmore, presented the awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, as well as awards in nine other outstanding categories.


Best Actress: Symoné Spencer (Fanny Brice, Funny Girl, Enloe High School)

Best Actor: Joshua Thompson (Miles Tuck, Tuck Everlasting, Weaver Academy)

Best Ensemble: Mary Poppins - Apex Friendship High School

Best Musical: Bright Star - C.E. Jordan High School

Best Dancer: Joshua Thompson (Miles Tuck, Tuck Everlasting, Weaver Academy)

Best Choreography: Tarzan - Heritage High School

Best Set Design: Bright Star - C.E. Jordan High School

Best Lighting Design: Urinetown: The Musical - Durham School of the Arts

Best Costume Design: Anastasia - Weaver Academy

Best Student Orchestra: Bright Star - C.E. Jordan High School

Triangle Shining Star: Emily Hartsoe - Longleaf School of the Arts

This year, over 100 students from 32 high schools across Central North Carolina participated in hopes of being selected as a Triangle Rising Stars' Top 20 finalist.

As Central North Carolina's qualifying event for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards®, the Triangle Rising Stars Best Actor and Best Actress recipients each received a $2,000 scholarship and were invited to attend the NHSMTA® in New York City this summer. This all-expense paid trip allows students from across the country to train with Broadway actors, directors and producers. Their week of coaching, auditions and rehearsals concludes with a sold-out performance on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre (Home of Disney's The Lion King©) where the coveted Jimmy™ Awards® for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress are announced.

"Triangle Rising Stars was a magical night this year," said Megan Rindoks, DPAC's Community Engagement Manager. "Returning to a live and in-person celebration was not something taken lightly by the students on our stage or anyone in the audience. The support and positivity I witnessed this year was unlike any other. I am thrilled to be bringing Joshua Thompson and Symoné Spencer to NYC for The Jimmy™ Awards® next month, and I can confidently say that they will make everyone proud as they compete on the national level."

Over 1,000 guests attended Triangle Rising Stars which was hosted by Clay Aiken and directed by Freddie Lee Heath (Director of Choreography), David Henderson (Acting Director) and Mark Hopper (Music Director). The 20 finalists opened with "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. In groups of five, each student had their own chance to shine in solo performances. Act One closed with Elena Holder singing "When He Sees Me" from the musical Waitress. "One" from A Chorus Line opened Act Two and was performed by each of the 20 finalists with the original show's choreography. After awards were presented, the entire cast of finalists closed out the evening with "Raise You Up" from Kinky Boots.

The Triangle Rising Stars Awards also featured performances by 2021 Triangle Rising Stars Best Actor, Joshua Messmore, and 2021 Jimmy Awards and Triangle Rising Stars Best Actress, Elena Holder. This was the first time Joshua and Elena performed on DPAC's stage, as last year's Triangle Rising Stars event was held virtually. The two sang "Only Us" from Dear Evan Hansen before crowning this year's Triangle Rising Stars Best Actor and Actress.

This year, the Top 20 Student Finalists were adjudicated by an esteemed panel of guest judges including Terri Dollar, Lisa Jolley, and Yolanda Rabun.

National High School Musical Theatre Awards

The National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (NHSMTA), was established in 2009 by Pittsburgh CLO and Nederlander Alliances, a division of The Nederlander Organization, to elevate the importance of theatre arts education in schools and reward excellence in student performance. The program impacts over 140,000 students annually who participate in high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by over forty professional theatres throughout the US.

Since its inception, NHSMTA® has been the catalyst for more than $4,000,000 in educational scholarships awarded to deserving young performers. Also known as The Jimmy Awards®, named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, this year-round program is administered by The Broadway League Foundation Inc.

For more information about the Triangle Rising Stars Awards, visit

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